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Worcestershire ( ) or ; abbreviated Worcs) is a non-metropolitan county, established in antiquity, located in the West Midlands region of central Englandmarker. In 1974 it was merged with the neighbouring county of Herefordshiremarker to form the county of Hereford and Worcester; which was divided in 1998, re-establishing Worcestershire once more as an independent entity. Following the 1998 reform the crest of the Malvern Hillsmarker forms the east-west border between the two counties, with the exception of the parish of West Malvernmarker in Worcestershire.

The county borders Herefordshiremarker, Shropshiremarker, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshiremarker, and Gloucestershiremarker. To the west, the county is bordered by the Malvern Hillsmarker, and the spa town of Malvernmarker. The southern part of the county is bordered by Gloucestershire and the northern edge of the Cotswoldsmarker, and to the east is Warwickshire. There are two major rivers flowing through the county, the Severn and the Avon.

The cathedral city of Worcestermarker is the largest town and administrative seat of the county which includes the principle settlements of Bromsgrovemarker, Stourport-on-Severnmarker, Droitwichmarker, Eveshammarker, Kidderminstermarker, Malvernmarker, and the largest town, Redditch, and a number of smaller towns such as Pershoremarker, Tenbury Wellsmarker, and Upton upon Severnmarker. The northern part of the county includes the beginnings of the vast urban sprawl of the industrial Midlands agglomeration, while the remainder and the south of the county is largely rural.


There are many accents and dialects within Worcestershire. The county's northern commuter towns such as Redditch and Kidderminster have had an influx of the Black Countrymarker accent which has affected the accents of Bromsgrove and parts of Redditch and formed a new accent unique to those towns. The rest of the county has retained the distinctive tones of the West Country accent, typified and made famous by the The Archers, the world's longest running radio soap opera, set in a fictional county situated somewhere between the (in reality, bordering) counties of Worcestershire and Warwickshire.


Absorbed by the Kingdom of Merciamarker during the 7th century and then by the unified Kingdom of England from 927 to 1707, it was an separate ealdormanship briefly in the 10th century before forming part of the Earldom of Mercia in the 11th century. In the years leading up to the Norman conquest, the Church, incluing the cathedral, Evesham Abbeymarker, Pershore Abbeymarker, Malvern Priorymarker and other religious houses, increasingly dominated county. The last known Anglo-Saxon sheriff of the county was Cyneweard of Laughern, and the first Norman sheriff was Urse d'Abetot who built the castle of Worcester and seized much church land. Worcestershire was the site of the Battle of Eveshammarker in which Simon de Montfort was killed on 4 August, 1265. In 1642, the site of the Battle of Powick Bridgemarker the first major skirmish of the English Civil War, and the Battle of Worcestermarker in 1651 that effectively ended it.

During the Middle Ages, much of the county's economy was based on the wool trade, and many areas of its dense forests, such as Malvern Chase, were royal hunting grounds. In the nineteenth century, Worcester was a centre for the manufacture of gloves; the town of Kidderminster became a centre for carpet manufacture, and Redditch specialised in the manufacture of needles, springs and hooks. Droitwich Spamarker, being situated on large deposits of salt, was a centre of salt production from Roman times, with one one of the principal Roman roads running through the town. These old industries have since declined, to be replaced by other, more varied light industry. The county is also home to the world's oldest continually published newspaper, the Berrow's Journal, established in 1690. Malvernmarker was one of the centres of the 19th century rise in English spa towns due to Malvern Water being believed to be very pure, containing contain "nothing at all".

Local government

Worcestershire's boundaries have been fluid for over a hundred years since the abolition of the form of local administration known as the Hundreds in 1889, but the continual expansion of Birminghammarker and the Black Countrymarker during and after the Industrial Revolution altered the county map considerably.

1884 - 1911

Worcestershire County Council came into existence following the Local Government Act 1888 and covered the historic traditional county, except for two designated county boroughs at Dudleymarker and Worcester. The county also had many exclaves and enclaves, which were areas of land cut off from the main geographical area of Worcestershire and completely surrounded by the adjoining counties of Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Oxfordshire. The most noticeable were Dudley and the area around Shipston-on-Stourmarker. In return, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Shropshire had their own exclaves within Worcestershire. These were found at Clentmarker, Tardebiggemarker and Halesowenmarker/Oldburymarker (or the Halesowen Parish area) respectively and were transferred to or rejoined Worcestershire in October 1844 following the Counties Act 1844. This Act of Parliament was designed to eradicate the issue of 'islands' or 'exclaves', however Shipston-on-Stour remained associated with Worcestershire until April 1931 and likewise Dudley until 1966. The southern boundary of the county was also confusing, with parish boundaries penetrating deep into Gloucestershire and vice-versa. This was also eventually resolved following the Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844.

Birmingham's continuous expansion has been a large contributory factor to Worcestershire's fluid boundary changes and associated housing issues. In November 1909, Quintonmarker Urban District was ceded to Birmingham and was followed by Yardleymarker, Northfieldmarker and Kings Heathmarker in November 1911. As a consequence of the transfer to Birmingham, these areas were no longer part of Worcestershire and became associated with Warwickshire. Dudley's historical status within the Diocese of Worcestermarker and through its aristocratic links ensured that the island was governed on a largely autonomous basis. Worcester was also self-governing and was known as The City and County of Worcester.

1966 - 1974

During the Local Government reorganisation of April 1966, Dudley expanded beyond its historical boundaries and took in Sedgleymarker, Brierley Hillmarker, Coseleymarker and part of Amblecotemarker. The Local Government Act redefined its status and County Borough of Dudleymarker became part of Staffordshire, the county which all of these areas had been part of. At the same time, Worcestershire gained a new county borough known as Warleymarker, which was an amalgamation of Oldbury Urban Districtmarker, Rowley Regis Urban Districtmarker, the County Borough of Smethwickmarker and parts of Tiptonmarker. The Oakhammarker area of Dudley, which was already in Worcestershire was transferred to the new county borough. During these reorganisations, the area of the county council grew only where Stourbridgemarker took in the majority of Amblecote Urban Districtmarker from Staffordshire and the designation of Redditch in 1964 as a New Town. This in turn saw expansion into the area in and around the villages of Ipsley and Matchborough in Warwickshire. The Redditch New Town designation coincided with a considerable programme of social and private house building in Droitwichmarker, Worcester, Bromsgrove, Kidderminster and along the Birmingham boundary at Frankleymarker, Ruberymarker and Rednalmarker. Frankley would later be transferred from Bromsgrove to Birmingham control in April 1995.

1974 - present

From 1974, the central and southern part of the county was amalgamated with Herefordshire and Worcester County Borough to form a single non-metropolitan county of Hereford and Worcester. The County Boroughs of Dudley and Warley along with Stourbridge and Halesowen were incorporated into the new West Midlands Metropolitan county. The West Midlands County Council existed for only a short period before abolition in April 1986 by the Government, though legally exists to this day as an administrative county and ceremonial county.

In the 1990s UK local government reform, the decision was taken to abolish Hereford and Worcester, with the new non-metropolitan county or shire county of Worcestershire regaining its historic border with Herefordshire.

The new county still excluded towns such as Stourbridge, Halesowen, Dudley and Oldbury, due to the reorganisation's remit of dealing with only non-metropolitan counties in England. The new County of Worcestershire came into existence on 1 April 1998 as an administrative county and ceremonial county, although some cross-boundary organisations and resources are shared with the Herefordshire unitary authority, these include waste management and the youth offending service.

The post-April 1974 Hereford & Worcester districts of Redditch, Worcester, Bromsgrove, Wychavonmarker and Wyre Forestmarker were retained with little or no change. However the Leominstermarker and Malvern Hills districts crossed over the historic border, so a new Malvern Hills district was constituted which straddled the Pre-April 1974 county boundary to the west, south west and north west.

See also: List of Worcestershire boundary changes

Worcestershire Youth Parliament members are Alice Bond, Ryan Nokes and Peter Bullock. A total of 8,598 votes were cast in polling stations right across Worcestershire in February 2008.

Worcestershire County Council Election Results

Year Conservative





Kidderminster Hospital

and Health Concern
Independent Wythallmarker

2005 30 8 15 2 1 1 0
2009 42 8 3 1 2 0 1

Physical geography

Worcestershire is a fairly rural county. The Malvern Hillsmarker, which run from the south of the county into Herefordshire, are made up mainly of volcanic igneous rock and metamorphic rock, some of which date from before 1200 million years ago. For more on the geology of the Malvern Hills, see the External links.

Culture, media and sport

Football is the most popular sport in the county, and by far the largest and most successful football club in the county is Kidderminster Harriers F.C.. In 2000 they became the first Worcestershire club to compete in The Football League. The county is also represented by Worcester City of the Blue Square Premier South & Bromsgrove Rovers of the Southern Football League.

The county is home to the Worcestershire County Cricket Club, traditionally first stop on for the touring national side's schedule in England. The Club's players have included Tom Graveney, Ian Botham, Glenn McGrath, Graeme Hick, Kapil Dev, Vikram Solanki, Don Kenyon and Basil D'Oliveira. Worcester Rugby Football Club, the Worcester Warriors, whose ground is at Sixways, Worcester, were promoted to the Guinness Premiership in 2004.

The village of Broadheathmarker, about 6 miles (10 km) North-West of the city of Worcester, is the birthplace of the composer Edward Elgar.

Malvernmarker is the home of the Malvern Fringe Festival, one of the oldest festivals of its kind in the world

Radio in Worcestershire

BBC Hereford & Worcester, Wyvern FM and Sunshine Radio broadcast to both Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The Wyre broadcasts to the north west of Worcestershire. Youthcomm Radio, a Community radio station, broadcasts to the city of Worcester. Birmingham-based radio stations such as BBC Radio WM and BRMB have traditionally considered the bordering areas of Worcestershire as part of their broadcast area. The Birmingham based West Midlands regional stations, such as Heart and Smooth Radio regionals also cover much of the county.

In 2007 the Office of Communicationsmarker (Ofcommarker) awarded a DAB Digital Radio multiplex licence for Herefordshire & Worcestershire to MuxCo Ltd. who aim to provide several new stations in 2009, while also providing a digital platform for Wyvern FM, Sunshine Radio and BBC Hereford & Worcester and area extensions to United Christian Broadcasters and the Highways Agency. In 2008, CE Birmingham, who own and operate the Birmingham local DAB multiplex licencees improved coverage of DAB Digital Radio across other parts of the county to include Worcester and Malvernmarker. Services that can be heard reasonably across much of Worcestershire are: BRMB, Chill, Gold (Birmingham), Magic Radio, Sunrise Radio, Traffic Radio (Midlands), BBC Radio WM, Xfm (Midlands) and Radio XL.


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Worcestershire at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 5,047 225 1,623 3,200
2000 6,679 159 2,002 4,518
2003 7,514 182 1,952 5,380

Industry and Agriculture

Fruit farming and the cultivation of hops were traditional agricultural activities in much of the county. During the latter half of the 20th century, this has largely declined with the exception southern area of the county around the Vale of Eveshammarker, where orchards a re still worked on a commercial scale. Worcester City's coat of arms includes three black pears, representing a now rare local pear variety, the Worcester Black Pear. The county's coat of arms follows this theme, having a pear tree with black pears. The apple variety known as Worcester Pearmain originates from Worcestershire, and the Pershore plum comes from the small Worcestershire town of that name, and is widely grown in that area. John Drinkwater, the poet, wrote Who travels Worcester county takes any road that comes when April tosses bounty to the cherries and the plums.

Worcestershire is also famous for a number of its non-agricultural products. The original Worcestershire sauce, a savoury condiment made by Lea and Perrins, is made in Worcester, and the now closed Royal Porcelain works was based in he city. The town of Malvernmarker is the home of the Morgan traditional sports car. The painting, A Worcestershire Cottage by Arthur Claude Strachan is also of general renown.


Worcestershire has a comprehensive school system with sixteen independent schools including the RGS Worcester and The Alice Ottley Schoolmarker, The King's School, Worcestermarker, Malvern St James' and Malvern Collegemarker. State schools in Worcester, the Wyre Forest District, and the Malvern Hills District are two-tier primary schools and secondary schools whilst Redditch and Bromsgrove have a three-tier system of first, middle and high schools. There are several schools in the county providing Sixth-form education although there are only two in the city of Worcester. Several vocational colleges provide O and A-level courses and adult education, such as the Evesham and Malvern College, and an agricultural campus of the Warwickshire Collegemarker in Pershoremarker.

Towns and villages

The county town and only city is Worcestermarker. The other major settlements, Kidderminster, Bromsgrove and Redditch are satellite towns of Birmingham. There are also several market towns: Malvernmarker, Bewdleymarker, Evesham, Droitwich Spa, Pershore, and Tenbury Wellsmarker.

For a full list of settlements, see list of places in Worcestershire.

Places of interest

Local groups

See also

External links


  1. Bottled Waters of the World. Retrieved 9 August 2009
  2. Wikipedia Fringe theatre.
  3. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  4. includes hunting and forestry
  5. includes energy and construction
  6. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured


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